I’m looking at Judy Collins from Both Sides Now.
From one side, Judy Collins inspired our generation in the 1960s and 1970s with her sublime vocals, imaginative interpretations, and original compositions.
From the other side, this year Judy will be performing in 130 shows (including a tour with her ex-boyfriend, Steven Stills.)
From one side, Judy Collins has recorded more than 50 albums, and won a Grammy in 1975 for “Send in the Clowns”, a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim…who could forget this one?
From the other side, this year– 40 years after she received her last Grammy nomination- Judy was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Silver Skies Blue,” a collaboration with singer-songwriter Ari Hest (listen below.)
From one side, Judy Collins struggled with mental illness, substance abuse, and the suicide of her only son, Clark, when Judy was 53.
From the other side, Judy has been sober for 39 years, and works tirelessly to raise awareness about suicide and mental illness.
From one side, Judy Collins struggled with bulimia for decades.
From the other, she has a newly released book about how she got over her food addictions- Cravings: How I Conquered Food.
Despite a full life of music, tragedy, struggles, and triumphs, one thing is clear: Judy Collins is not slowing down any time soon.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview Judy Collins from her home in Manhattan last week. She’s strong, she’s healthy, and she appears to have more energy than…well, certainly more than me…and I’m 20 years her junior (and no one ever accused me of being low energy.)
It exhausted me to hear everything that Judy Collins has in the works as she nears her 78th birthday: her new book, creating and performing music, mentoring, painting, film making, daily exercise, meditation, tireless advocacy for the mentally ill.
“My best work is in front of me,” Judy told me. And I believe her.
“So, what’s your secret sauce for having so much energy?” I asked her.
There was no hesitation in her answer: “sobriety, exercise, meditation, clean eating, vitamins, and laughter.” And while we talked, it was clear that being healthy in mind and body is now her passion.
“I don’t believe in aging,” she told me, “I see no reason to slow down, because I still have a lot to do.”
Ms. Collins rid herself of food cravings about nine years ago by eliminating sugar, grains, corn, and wheat. She believes that a grain and sugar free diet is fundamental to solving mental health problems as well as physical health problems, and she is a very strong proponent of alternative medicines- acupuncture, body work, meditation, therapy.
“I exercise at least 5 times a week,” she told me. “It would not be unusual for someone to see me running around barefoot at some hotel while I’m on tour.”
Judy has written openly and honestly about her family’s struggles with mental illness, substance abuse disorder and suicide. Her memoir, Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival and Strength, chronicles her survival following the suicide of her son in 1992.
Judy will be honored for her passionate efforts to raise awareness about suicide and mental illness at the 2017 Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards, an annual event thrown by Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
Here is Judy Collins in 1976 performing Both Sides Now, written by Joni Mitchell
…and here she is these days…just as amazing and those beautiful blue eyes still as bright…
And heads up, Boston folks, Judy Collins will be performing at Old Whaling Church in Edgartown Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday, June 8, 2017.